The US Department of Agriculture just descheduled THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The part of the cannabis plant that produces a psychoactive response in the brain or the feeling of getting high.
On May 28, the USDA issued a bulletin, a legal opinion for hemp production basically authorizing the interstate delivery of hemp and legalized THC derived from hemp.
Up until December 2018, hemp was considered illegal like cannabis, but the 2018 Farm Bill legalized it. However, farmers in states where all forms of marijuana were illegal could grow hemp but they had few options to sell their crops because it still couldn’t cross state lines.
Now they can sell those crops to producers in other states or at least extract the hemp oil and sell that derivative product.
The second item within this USDA bulletin is the subject of THC. Hemp is no longer a controlled substance. Also, by amending schedule I to exclude THC in hemp, Congress has likewise removed THC in hemp from the CSA.”
Typically, cannabis marijuana plants can produce flowers or buds that have a high level of THC. However, cannabis hemp plants tend to have very little THC in them. That doesn’t mean there is no THC or that the hemp plants couldn’t be modified to contain more THC.
There is still some debate now over this USDA bulletin and whether the words “in hemp” mean THC can’t be extracted from hemp because then it would no longer be in the plant. Several people have suggested that the phrase hemp-derived products covers hemp extractions even if it includes THC. It’s a new bulletin and is sure to be tested very quickly.
If hemp-derived THC is now legal and can cross state lines, it will be close to impossible for law enforcement to determine the difference between cannabis-derived THC and hemp-derived THC. This USDA bulletin could have effectively descheduled cannabis.
In May, New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill, HR2843, in both Houses removing cannabis from the CSA and it included a social justice component. “I believe this bill will have at least 100 co-sponsors by June 15 and has the best chance to get passed,” said Singleton. “If the Safe Banking Act doesn’t get passed first, then I think this one will. I know the cannabis industry wants the States Rights Act passed, but it’s going nowhere. These have the most support.”
Indeed, no one in the cannabis industry expected the USDA to be the ones to legalize THC and it looks as if this is the next domino to fall.